A LONG TIME AGO…

In a Starlog magazine far, far, away science fiction writer David Gerrold wrote about being a writer. He often wrote about being a writer, and one of the things he said is that a writer has to be an egotist. If you are walking into a publisher’s office, or are about to pitch your script to a producer, you have to be excited about your story. You have to believe it’s the best story in the world. Why? Because if you’re not excited about it, you can’t expect anyone else to be. Publishers and producers listen to pitches every day. You can’t walk in and say, “Here’s something I wrote. I hope you like it.” You have to walk in with the attitude of, “I’ve got this great story. Let me tell you about it!” Of course, there are limits. You don’t want to be obnoxious. And you want to stop and listen to what the person you’re pitching to has to say.

The point is to be excited about your work. And that starts with writing something you’re excited about, a story you want to tell, an idea you want to explore. Right now, I’m excited about steampunk, so that’s what I’m writing. Some writers make the mistake of trying to follow a trend. For example, zombie movies are big now. But let’s say you started writing one right now and sold it within a year. It will still take at least two years to produce. The trend will probably be over. But if you happen to be passionate about zombie movies, there’s a greater chance you’ll write something original, with a new twist. And even if the trend is waning, some studio might still say, “Nobody has done THIS before.”

The truth is that writing can be a long, hard process. Not every scene is going to be a thrill-a-minute or a laugh riot. Some days you’ll just get stuck or write yourself into a corner and have to back track. And there is no guaranteed payoff. Write because you love writing. Even if only your friends and family will ever see it. David Gerrold once wrote that he writes because there are books he wants to read, but no one has written them yet. So he has to write them. That’s my philosophy. There are books I want to read, movies I want to see, but no one’s written them yet. So it’s up to me.

What’s your story?